SADC: Set Out Clear, Time-bound and Enforceable Zimbabwe Elections Roadmap

Under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the country’s civil society organisations which have made a beeline to the SADC extra ordinary summit in Johannesburg, have prepared a position paper which has been distributed to all the regional leaders.

“We, Zimbabwe civil society organizations under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition banner, fully support the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mediator for Zimbabwe, president Jacob Zuma and the SADC Organ Troika in their insistence on genuine preparations for democratic elections in Zimbabwe that are without violence or intimidation,” reads part of the position paper made available to Radio VOP.

“We urge SADC leaders when they meet to discuss Zimbabwe on 11 June to present a clear roadmap to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe that SADC leaders can enforce to ensure full compliance. Implementation of agreed reforms under the roadmap should be in accordance with clear time limits,” it said.

The civil society grouping demanded that the SADC leaders put on public record what measures they would take to ensure implementation of its Livingstone SADC Troika resolutions of 31 March 2011 and the proposed elections roadmap.

The non-governmental organizations noted that over the two years into the inclusive government and experiences of non-implementation of numerous agreed provisions in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) were ample evidence of the absence of political will to implement a SADC and African Union guaranteed agreement particularly by Zanu (PF), a party they said wielded de facto power, to institute democratic and human rights reforms.

“Drawing from past disappointments, SADC must be under no illusion that Zanu (PF) will voluntarily reform in the absence of significant and sustained pressure for compliance. A key lesson from global politics is that mere words, without the backing of positive action, will not move dictatorships to reform.

“We reiterate that despite talk to the contrary, Zimbabwe is not ready for elections in 2011 and that on her own, without direct assistance from SADC and the AU, Zimbabwe lacks capacity and political will to deliver a free and fair election. We state unequivocally that the conditions obtaining in Zimbabwe such as widespread state-sponsored violence, partisan application of the law, increased deployment of soldiers across the country openly intimidating citizens and campaigning for Zanu (PF) and increased arrests and harassment of rights activists and MDC leaders all confirm that key state institutions remain unreformed and extremely partisan and politicized,” read part of the paper.

The NGOs added that for the SADC-brokered elections roadmap to be meaningful and to inspire confidence in the people of Zimbabwe, it must directly address the following five critical pre-conditions:

A new, democratic constitution which includes critical electoral reforms such as an updated and accurate voters’ roll, guarantees for media freedoms, promotes gender equality and equal access by all political parties to state media while repealing or amending all legislation that hinders free political activity. The roadmap must layout contingency plans of steps to be taken in the event that a credible constitutional referendum produces a NO Vote.

All soldiers currently deployed across the country must be returned and confined to their barracks and all service chiefs must issue a public statement committing themselves to restricting their activities to their constitutional mandate and to totally separate themselves from politics and from interference in political and electoral affairs.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its Secretariat Staff, charged with elections management, must be completely demilitarized, independent, professional, adequately resourced and has direct technical support from the SADC Electoral Commissions Forum to enable it to impartially discharge its mandate.

In the context of its on-going mediation in the political conflict in Zimbabwe, SADC must independently examine and certify that the environment is conducive to holding free and fair elections before an election date can be set, and SADC must supervise the elections to ensure full compliance with SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. The elections must robustly monitored and observed by local, regional and international groups who should have
unfettered access to all parts of the country.

Together with the AU and the UN, deploy peace-keeping monitors at least three months ahead of elections to prevent state-sponsored violence and intimidation and to guarantee peaceful transfer of power to the eventual winner of the elections. The peace-keeping monitors should remain on the ground a further three months after elections have been held.